A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Although containing many fantastic elements, The Twelve-Fingered Boy is rooted in the real world, and the methods Shreve and Jack use to stay ahead of their pursuers seem logical and well thought out. Jacobs' depiction of life inside a juvenile detention center is not especially realistic, but its has sufficient credibility for the purposes on the plot.
The Twelve-Fingered Boy emphasizes the notion that people have the right to the privacy of their thoughts. Every time Shreve has to look inside someone's mind, he feels a little bit dirty, knowing that what he is doing is unacceptable.
Positive Role Models
At the start of The Twelve-Fingered Boy, Shreve Cannon is a thief and a liar, but once he becomes Jack's unofficial guardian, he discovers hidden strengths within himself. At the end of the book, however, he chooses to betray his friend, but only because the life of a defenseless little girl is at stake.
Violence & Scariness
The Twelve-Fingered Boy contains a number of very violent scenes, some of which sensitive readers may find disturbing. Early on, there's a bloody fight between inmates at the juvenile detention center. Other violent episodes include gunfights and an attack by an adult that leaves a teen character gravely injured. Perhaps more disturbing than the physical violence is the mental "rape" that happens when the villains take over the bodies and minds of their victims. The later chapters of the book also deal with the abduction and imprisonment of a young girl by a (presumed) pedophile. Details of her abuse are not given, but the horror of her ordeal is expressed obliquely.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The Twelve-Fingered Boy does not include much sexual content. Shreve has a girlfriend, but they are apart for most of the book and there is little indication of the physicality of their relationship. A very minor male character is revealed as being blackmailed over his masturbatory interest in men's fitness magazines.
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The Twelve-Fingered Boy contains some strong language. It ranges from "titty-baby" (reserved for cry-baby newcomers to juvie) to "damn," "hell," "bitch," and "bastard," although it avoids the most objectionable words.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Shreve's mother is an alcoholic, and The Twelve-Fingered Boy includes a handful of scenes in which she's drunk and belligerent. The book takes a clear stand against alcohol abuse.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Twelve-Fingered Boy is an intense horror adventure with compelling characters that adds a creepy note to the notion of superpowers. It has a number of very violent scenes, some of which sensitive readers may find disturbing (a bloody fight between inmates at a juvenile detention center, a gunfight, a stabbing, in which a teen character is gravely injured, an adbuction and imprisonment of a girl by a presumed pedophile). Perhaps more disturbing than the physical violence is the mental "rape" that happens when the villains take over the bodies and minds of their victims. There's little sexual content, and objectionable language generally ranges from "titty-baby" to "damn," "hell," "bitch," and "bastard."
Is It Any Good?
The Twelve-Fingered Boy is gripping from start to finish, an intense horror/action story that finds new juice in familiar situations. The book has echoes of The Matrix, X-Men and the novels of Stephen King, but author John Hornor Jacobs makes sure those influences don't overwhelm his own voice. Shreve and Jack are very compelling characters, and Jacobs ends the novel in such a way that readers will be anxious to get their hands on the saga's next installment.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.